Greg Beacham and Sally Ho
LAS VEGAS — Lamar Odom didn’t last long at the glittering intersection of championship success and Hollywood celebrity.
Cut loose by his beloved Los Angeles Lakers, followed everywhere by reality television crews, the humble kid from Queens who married into the Kardashian clan saw his life spiral out of control, and so did everyone else.
Khloe Kardashian tried to hide his addictions, then told the world she couldn’t save him. The two-time NBA champion landed on Skid Row, a regular tabloid target.
Then he seemed to drop out altogether before he was found unresponsive in a Nevada brothel and hospitalized, bringing his estranged wife, his former teammates and the world’s attention back to his side on Wednesday.
Hospital authorities would not comment on the condition of the 35-year-old former NBA forward, but the Rev. Jesse Jackson was among his visitors. Jackson said Odom was on life support and improving.
“Apparently from what the doctor said, he was much better off today than yesterday. He at least has some responsiveness now,” Jackson said. “He’s got tubes in him now but we felt inspired by his presence.”
“We’re just holding hands and hoping he can bounce back,” Jackson added.
Odom, who was embraced by teammates and television fans alike for his Everyman approach to fame, was found face down and alone Tuesday after spending four days at the Love Ranch, a legal Nevada brothel.
Odom started “throwing up all kinds of stuff” after a 911 operator told brothel workers to turn him on his side, Love Ranch owner Dennis Hof told The Associated Press in a phone interview. Odom had “spent time socializing with some of my girls,” but wasn’t seen taking any illegal drugs, Hof said.
Investigators have sought a warrant to obtain a blood sample to determine if Odom suffered a drug or alcohol overdose, Nye County, Nevada, Sheriff Sharon Wehrly said.
Odom spent most of his 14-year NBA career in Los Angeles with the Lakers and Clippers, becoming a fan favorite before he sought even more fame.
His one-month courtship of Khloe Kardashian before their huge 2009 wedding was taped for the E! network, and Odom appeared on nearly two dozen episodes of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” He also appeared on “Kourtney & Kim Take Miami,” and his marriage was chronicled on the “Khloe & Lamar” show in 2011 and 2012.
Odom signed with the New York Knicks in April 2014, but never played. Rumors of drug use followed, and when cameras caught up with him on a sidewalk in August, Odom blamed the media for his downfall.
“Y’all have discredited me, beat me down, took my confidence, took everything away from me. You will not do it again,” Odom told TMZ in an interview. “To everybody that I know and that supports me, I’m sorry but it’s just it. The dog has to bite back.”
Several Lakers players visited the hospital after their exhibition game Tuesday night in Las Vegas.
“There’s not one word I could say that would make sense,” World Peace said, clearly distraught.
Contributors include Ken Ritter in Las Vegas, Andrew Dalton and Beth Harris in Los Angeles and Alicia Rancilio in New York.